When the National Football League put their new body weight rule into effect, it was meant to protect the quarterbacks that drive the league’s viewership, revenue and typically get all the credit, but also most of the blame. There have been several penalties affecting the outcome of games so far this season, and many defensive players around the league have voiced their displeasure for this new rule that nobody seems to fully understand.
In a quarterback driven league, with every advantage helping the offense, it is defenders who are being put into a tough situation. While trying to avoid a penalty and protect the quarterback he was sacking, Miami Dolphins defensive end William Hayes suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and is done for the year.
During the second quarter of Miami’s 28-20 win over the Oakland Raiders, the defensive end came inside towards Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. In an attempt to not land with his full body weight on Carr, and draw the subsequent penalty, Hayes stepped over Carr at full speed.
When he planted his right leg, the 33-year-old tore his ACL, and it sent him writhing on the ground in pain.
It’s one thing that the NFL wants to protect their biggest asset with more and more rules, but this is getting out of hand. Pass rushers, the only real defense against pass-heavy NFL offenses, are being rendered useless, and Hayes’ injury is going to be the first in a long line of grievances building against the league.
And we’ve only just finished week three…
Coach Adam Gase and the Dolphins have started the season 3-0 and are in first place in the AFC East. Now, Hayes, who was leading the team with 2.0 sacks, is gone for the year trying to avoid a roughing the passer penalty that nobody seems to understand.
“What do you want players to do, you know? We know the rule, but we don’t know the ins and outs of it. I saw Clay Matthews had another one yesterday. What do you want a guy to do, man? He’s gotta put the guy down, but how much is too much weight? What technique do you use and how do you go about it? We’re still asking questions just like y’all are asking questions now.” — Dolphins defensive tackle Akeem Spence
The hit Spence is referencing is one on Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. It was Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews’ third “body weight” roughing the passer call in the first three weeks.
Not only do we have a rule that’s changing the outcome of games, but players who the rule penalizes are getting hurt trying to avoid it altogether.
Will this insane penalty be remedied this season? No.
More importantly, will this new rule cost more teams, and potentially players, the rest of the season?